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Freedom of the Great Outdoors

It's now all too familiar to log on to a zoom call and see the person at the other end looking dazed and exhausted. This happens frequently in coaching conversations. I remember one time, logging on and seeing my client's exhausted expression. I suggested that she close down the computer, go outside and call me from her mobile. The result was a completely different quality of conversation. A bit like putting down your notes, and speaking from the heart.

It turns out this experience is backed up by science. Research by Blasi, Palmer and McCall (2021) carried out during the pandemic, reported that respondents found walking whilst being coached on the phone improved their energy and mood, as well as increasing their willingness to set challenging goals and think creativity to find ways forward.

In a more flexible world it is to be hoped that managers will increasingly see the merit of taking taking conversations with their team outside, especially while the weather remains good. The simple act of walking side by side creates a feeling of equality. It gives time to explore, to consider issues, listen to the other person’s point of view and reach better conclusions. Stepping away from the desk gives time to think, to listen and to consider options before agreeing a way forward. It creates a sense of connection.

Exercise is also good for mental health, reducing stress and creating a space to put things in perspective, a place to calm and restore.

Di Blasi, Z., Palmer, S. and McCall, J., 2021. Telephone-coaching while walking during COVID-19: A pilot study. Journal of Ecopsychology, 1(4), pp.2752-5260.

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